Senior Futsum Zeinasellassie of North Central (Indianapolis) and Warsaw junior Ashley Erba won their respective races in record time during the IHSAA Cross Country State Finals in Terre Haute.
In covering the 5,000 meters, Zeinasellassie clocked a 14:48.8, the fastest state finals time in the eight years the IHSAA meet has been held at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course. It was the third consecutive state title for Zeinasellassie who also becomes the third boy to win three straight. Previously, John Stayton of Anderson won the first three state meets in 1946, 1947 and 1948 and Franklin Central's Aaron Fisher matched that in 1998, 1999 and 2000. Zeinasellassie finished as the runner-up his freshman season in 2008.
From the very start, Zeinasellasie put a large distance between himself and the other runners as they cruised across the opening 800 meters of the front stretch of the course. He went on to finish 44.1 seconds ahead of second place Mitchell Hubner of LaPorte (15:32.9). It was the largest margin of victory between the top two runners since at least 1968 when state runner-up times are available.
Erba also ran the fastest 5,000 meter state finals time for girls finishing in 18:05.6, more than 13 seconds ahead of runner-up Sarah Bennett of Carmel (18:19.0). Erba became the first Warsaw girl to win the state meet and the first Tigers runner to win since Max Truex in 1953.
Bennett's second place finish set the table for the Greyhounds who had all five scoring runners finish in the top 20 overall and accumulate only 43 points. It was the school's second straight team title and third in four years. Kelcy Welch (18:30.9) finished fifth overall, Gina Genco (18:46.5) was 13th, Allison Jacobsen (18:53.1) was 18th and Renee Wellman (18:55.2) finished 20th. Mark Ellington is the Carmel coach.
Columbus North finished as the runner-up with 140 points, Valparaiso was third with 213, Fort Wayne Concordia was fourth at 223 and West Lafayette rounded out the top five with 239.
The Columbus North boys team captured its third consecutive championship under Coach Rick Weinheimer. Michael Sublette (15:39.3) finished fifth overall, Christopher Kelsey (15:46.9) and Andrew Diehn (15:49.8) were 12th and 13th, respectively, Karson Tays (16:16.9) was 40th and David Powell (16:18.0) ended 43rd.
The Bull Dogs tallied 77 points followed by runner-up Hamilton Southeastern with 109 points. Carmel was third with 152, Mishawaka was fourth with 155 and Lawrence Central, qualifying for the state meet for the first time since 1946, ended fifth with 179 points.
Valparaiso's Aljobeh, Carmel's Wellman Named Mental Attitude Award Winners
Renee Wellman of Carmel High School and Ahmad Aljobeh of Valparaiso High School were both honored as the recipients of the annual mental attitude awards by the IHSAA Executive Committee.
Lauded for their mental attitude, scholarship, leadership and athletic ability, Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance presented $1,000 scholarships to their respective schools in each individual's name.